I worked in various school systems under a variety of supervisors, principals, and "executive directors" (yes, the position actually exists in some secondary schools) in the West for over a decade, and the one thing these school management types had in common was a penchant for luxury automobiles. Every single school leader I worked for drove either a Mercedes-Benz, a BMW, or a Jaguar. And I am not talking about low end models - I am talking about top of the line vehicles with price tags approaching or, in some cases, surpassing six digits.
Of course, luxury cars were often just the tip of the iceberg. There were also nice houses in Westchester County, expensive annual vacations to exotic destinations, fancy brand name clothing, and all the rest of it. Now to be fair, these principals and supervisors made handsome salaries. Annual pay for school leaders in the districts in which I worked in the United States and Canada exceeded 100,000 dollars. The executive director in England did even better, raking in excess of 150,000 pounds a year. But no matter how much money they made, these school leaders inevitably lived lifestyles that were considerably larger than their take home pay. One does not need to hold degrees in economics nor psychology to understand how and why people in such positions become easily pliable.
Now some school leaders I knew were bonafide kool-aid drinkers completely on board with whatever pernicious idiocy the departments of education happened to be promulgating. I remember one or two principals who would have been more than happy to gas the students en masse in the gym showers were such orders ever given, but these true believers were the exception rather than the rule. In fact, most of the school leaders I knew were generally decent, ambitious people. They were drawn to school leadership for the money, but also for the chance to do something positive in their careers.
As mentioned above, the kool-aid drinkers were always willing accomplices - true-believing yes men and women who tended to question nothing and never experienced pangs of conscience. These types knew exactly what they had signed up for and would gladly do just about anything to maintain their status and keep their unpaid for beamer safely on the driveway of their gated-community house in Connecticut. The decent, ambitious folk, on the other hand, lived within the confines of an entirely different reality.
The decent, ambitious types loved status and success as much as the kool-aid drinkers did, but they often found themselves in positions were their love of status and success conflicted with what they were being asked to do. Most simply put their heads down and internalized these conflicts as they reluctantly went on to do whatever they were being asked to do. The more courageous types put up fights or bent the rules, but as the pressure mounted, they too relented. Why? Simple. Because beamers and benzes don't pay for themselves.
The late George Carlin criticized the average contemporary person's approach to personal finance by quipping it essentially amounted to nothing more than "buying things you don't need with money you don't have." This describes all the school leaders I worked for to a tee. They all bought things they did not really need with money they did not have. As a result, they made themselves financially vulnerable and surrendered themselves to the forces of manipulation.
Now, before anyone harangues me for being some kind of socialist, let me just quickly state that I have nothing against beamers and benzes per se. I have nothing against anyone purchasing a luxury car if they have the money to do so. I also have nothing against anyone purchasing a luxury car if they do not have the money to do so, but people who fall into the latter category need to become acutely aware of the bargain they are making. Essentially, they are selling a piece of their freedom, agency, and spirit in exchange for a material/hedonic thing. Instead of possessing, they become possessed, and once possessed, they become easier to control.
And that is my overall view of personal debt in the end. It is probably the primary source of control and manipulation in the lives of average contemporary people (yet I find fewer and fewer people addressing this on blogs and elsewhere). It is the reason why even the best among us readily or reluctantly succumb to evil. The reason why we nod our heads in agreement when we don't agree at all. The reason why we are afraid to challenge anything at work. The reason why we cower in corners and work hard to stay under the radar. The reason why we begin speaking the language they want us to speak, thinking the kinds of things they want us to think, and doing the sorts of deeds they want done. The reason why we find it hard to fall asleep at night and even harder to wake up in the morning.
It's a shame beamers and benzes don't pay for themselves. Imagine how much better people might be if they did. Yet again, imagine how much better people might be if they didn't waste their life energy purchasing things like beamers and benzes with money they didn't have. Why, they could actually experience a real taste of freedom then, and perhaps begin focusing less on worldly things and start concentrating on more important matters . . . but I am prone to babbling, so I think I'll end there.